Viaplay Merges Swedish & Norwegian Studios With Several Staffers Laid Off

EXCLUSIVE: Viaplay has merged its in-house Swedish and Norwegian studios, leading to several layoffs.

The group stressed that the move, which has led to the creation of the newly-titled Viaplay Studios Nordics, is unrelated to the shock news that emerged earlier this week when Group CEO Anders Jensen resigned with immediate effect amidst poorer-than expected financials and a rapidly deteriorating ad market.

Viaplay Studios Sweden and Norway produced numerous in-house shows and movies for the Nordic streamer such as Oscar-winner Lasse Hallström’s Hilma biopic and upcoming feature Stockholm Bloodbath.

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The newly-combined outfit will be led by former Viaplay Studios Norway boss Ørjan Karlsen, who reports into Azra Osmancevic, VP Operations Nordics. Alexander Tanno, who ran Viaplay Studios Sweden, is one of several layoffs. Viaplay continues to run CEE-based indie Paprika Studios.

The plan had been in the offing for some time, a spokesman stressed, becoming effective June 1, a few days prior to Jensen’s decision and the group’s negative trading update.

“Extremely ambitious”

Delivered in the early hours of Monday morning, the update was the talk of the NEM market in Dubrovnik earlier this week. The news was grave, with Viaplay posting expected negative Q2 EBIT of between 250M ($20M) Swedish Krona and 300M ($27M) Swedish Krona. The group blamed lower demand in the Nordic and international streaming markets, accelerated deterioration of the Scandinavian TV and radio advertising markets and the slower delivery of cost savings programs. A further update will come on July 20 but the group’s “long term operational and financial guidance” has been scotched.

After five years in post during which he instituted rapid change, launched in multiple markets including the U.S. and greenlit dozens of original shows, Jensen has already been replaced by Jorgen Madsen Lindemann, the ex-CEO of former Viaplay parent MTG.

Speaking at NEM, Viaplay EVP North America Vanda Rapti said Jensen had been “extremely ambitious,” while appealing for calm.

“We have adjusted to market conditions as everyone else has done,” she added. “Our strategy remains the same and we are working with our new CEO to see how best to deliver that.”

A Viaplay spokesman said of the studios merger: “The production industry is continuously changing and as a major player, we always need to adjust to market developments and the needs of our customers. We wish the employees affected by this change all the best and thank them for their contributions to Viaplay Group. The change does not affect any of our ongoing productions or our content offering.”

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